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3. Installing WordPress Plugins

Written by Michelle Shull | Last updated: November 15, 2016

Installing plugins is a great way to increase the functionality of your site. It’s also very easy, once you get the hang of it.

WordPress plugins can be installed in several ways.

Free plugins from the official WordPress repository can be installed via the Plugins > Add New tab of your wp-admin area.

Plugins can be installed via FTP (with a client like FileZilla.)

WPMU DEV plugins can be installed via our Dashboard plugin, downloaded automatically via our project pages to your registered sites, or downloaded and installed via FTP. Find out more in the WPMU DEV section of our documentation.

3.1 Tips when installing new plugins

Link to chapter 1

You should always install plugins from trusted sources.  All WPMU DEV plugins are ‘Guaranteed To Work’ according to their listed compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress, Multisite and BuddyPress.

While there are thousand of WordPress plugins many of these don’t work on WordPress Multisite sites and may have compatibility issues with Multisites or the theme you are using.

Make sure you check the plugin’s compatibility information before installing. The plugin may not have been updated for the version of WordPress you are using.

Always activate your new theme on a test site, without any other plugins activated, using a default theme such as Twenty Elven, taking notes of any errors which occur. Then activate the theme you intend to use, and any other plugins, one at a time, to check for any theme/plugin incompatibilities and only enable the theme network wide once you have fixed all issues with the plugin.

Once installed, plugins can be:

  • Activated and deactivated on a per site basis inside the dashboard via the Plugins page in the Site Admin dashboard
  • Network Activated or Network Deactivated via the Plugins page in the Network Admin dashboard.

Plugins can be sourced through sites such as:

  1. WPMU DEV
  2. WordPress Plugins Directory

3.2 Manually installing plugins using FTP

Link to chapter 2

It is good practice to backup your install completely before installing new plugins.

You install plugins using FTP as follows:

1. Download the plugin.

2. Unzip the file to extract all of the files into a folder on your hard drive.

Extract the zip file

3. Read the Usage instructions thoroughly.  Some plugins involve uploading PHP files and folders to a range of different locations.

  • Plugins obtained from sources such as the WordPress Plugins Directory normally include a “readme” file inside the plugin folder.  Read the “readme” file thoroughly.
  • Check the website where you downloaded the plugin from for any additional instructions.
  • WPMU DEV plugins don’t include readme or install files. Refer to the usage page where you downloaded the plugin.

4.  Launch FileZilla (refer to these instructions if you are new to FTP).

5. Locate and open the folder on your computer that contains the new plugin.

6. Refer to the “Readme’ file or usage page (for WPMU DEV plugins) to determine which folder(s) to upload your plugin to on your install.

  • Most plugins are uploaded to your plugins folder (located within the wp-content folder of your public_html folder)
  • However,  some plugins involve uploading PHP files and folders to a range of different locations.

7. Upload the plugin from your computer, by dragging it into the folder(s) in your WordPress directory as specified by the “Readme’ file or usage page.

For example, to install WPMU DEV’s Tag Feed plugin you upload the tag.feed.php file to the /wp-content/ folder on your install.

Upload the file

If you are using Multi-DB:

  • You need to add the global table lines to db-config.php BEFORE installing the plugin or running the sql.txt
  • The WPMU DEV plugin installation page will specify which lines to add to your db-config.php if using multi-db

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